President Bush did not pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby today. He did commute his jail sentence, but let stand the $250,000 fine and the 2 years of supervised release (probation) imposed by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. This after the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit refused to allow Mr. Libby to remain free on Bail pending his Appeal Hearing before the Court.
“Scooter” was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and would have had to start serving 2 and 1/2 years Jail Time if the President had not intervened. The President issued a statement (Statement by the President On Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby ) which contain the following.
“This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury. [Emphasis Mine]
Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.”
President Bush also noted that commutation leaves in place the Felony Conviction, fines and probation of Mr. Libby. The President further noted his reason for his actions on behalf of “Scooter”.
“In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.”
Predictably several politicians released/made statements about President Bush’s exercise of Constitutional Power. Possible Republican Presidential Candidate Fred Thompson who has long supported a pardon, said “I am very happy for Scooter Libby.”
Democrat Barack Obama has this release posted on his Web Site.
“This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security [Emphasis Mine] cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people’s faith in a government that puts the country’s progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years.”
Notice the part of this statement that I have bolded. Lewis Libby was not the one who released the name of a covert CIA Agent (Valerie Plame). In fact that was Richard Armitage. Scooter was convicted of lying under oath and obstructing justice.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, issued a press statement – Pelosi Statement on President’s Commutation of Scooter Libby Prison Sentence
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on President Bush’s commutation of Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence today:
“The President’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people.
“The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable.”[Emphasis Mine]
Notice in the above bolded paragraph that Speaker Pelosi claims our President’s word is not to be believed and that he has failed to uphold the rule of law etc. Really Ms. Speaker, that’s just not true.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also issued a press release about the Presidents action on behalf of Mr. Libby. (Reid: Bush’s Commutation of Libby’s Prison Sentence Endorses Administration’s Culture of Corruption) from which this quote is taken.
“The President’s decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War [Emphasis Mine]. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone.”
Senator Reid is playing a little loose with the facts. The bolded part about manipulating intelligence was what the Senate found Valarie Plame’s husband Joe Wilson guilty of doing. In any event, Lewis Libby was not guilty of silencing critics of the Iraq War. Mr. Libby was attempting to correct Joe Wilson’s deceit and misrepresentation of the facts.
Senator Clinton also released a media statement. (Statement of Hillary Clinton on Libby Commutation) Senator Clinton was also distorting and misrepresenting facts. She also tries to paint President Bush’s actions as an effort to quell dissent.
“Today’s decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration’s politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House’s efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.” [Emphasis Mine]
Again I call your attention my bolded parts of her statement. It was Joe Wilson’s op-ed piece that lead to the “politicization of national security intelligence”. Joe Wilson was found by the Senate, to have falsely reported actions concerning national security intelligence.
President George W. Bush acted today under authority of the Constitution to grant relief to Lewis “Scooter” Libby. It is important to note that the President did not Pardon Mr. Libby, although he has the authority to do so. He did nothing more than Commute Mr. Libby’s 30 month prison time. Mr. Libby remains a convicted Felony, who still has heavy fines to pay and probation to serve. He will loose his law license and be bared from voting etc. as a Felon. Lewis Libby will pay a rather high price for doing something stupid. Ironically, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did not charge anyone with the crime he was appointed to investigate.
While not completly exhaustive, my search during this post revealed 117 pardons/commutations since George W. Bush took office. President Bush is in his 7th year as President. Unless he really steps on it, he will have a hard time equaling his immediate predecessor. President William J. Clinton pardoned/commuted approximately 457 individuals during his term (Pardons granted by President Clinton). Take a look at some of the crimes of which these individuals were convicted.
I particularly find Senator Hillary Clinton’s charge of CRONYISM offensive when names like Daniel Rostenkowski, Roger Clinton, Pincus Green, Susan H. McDougal, Marc Rich and Henry G. Cisneros are among the names Pardoned. These individuals were friends and associates of the Clintons and they did not have their sentences commuted, THEY WERE PARDONED.